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Is Credit Suisse now in play?

The storms buffeting Credit Suisse represent big trouble for the Swiss bank. Its new chairman may install a new CEO and set a new strategic course, but with big European banks gearing up for consolidation, Credit Suisse just put itself on the block.

CEO of Swiss Universal Bank Gottstein attends a news conference in Zurich
Ruben Sprich/REUTERS

At the end of April, Urs Rohner leaves Credit Suisse, 17 years after first joining the executive board and 10 years after taking over as chairman.

No one will be cheering.

When the bank published its latest annual report in March, it included a joint interview with the departing chairman and Thomas Gottstein the – for now – still serving chief executive Rohner promoted in fraught circumstances in February 2020.

Asked how Credit Suisse in 2021 differs from the bank in 2004, Rohner pointed to the very different operating environment for banks after the great financial crisis but noted one constant: “The DNA of Credit Suisse is very much the same: an entrepreneur’s bank that shapes its business in accordance with the social and economic challenges of the era.”

His failure to change that DNA, however, is one reason why Rohner leaves without his SFr1.5 million ($1.6 million) chair fee for the year to April 2021, why the bank has scrapped bonuses for members of the executive board for 2020 and for this year, and why senior staff below the executive board level will also have bonuses cut, despite strong underlying performance across investment banking and wealth management.

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Peter Lee is Editorial Director. He joined Euromoney straight from Oxford University in 1985, and has written about banking and capital markets ever since, being appointed editor in 1999. He became editorial director of Euromoney in May 2005.
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